Brief Description:

Students will use Legos to build a sturdy tower that can hold up a book/stack of books.

Required Background:

  • Students should be familiar with the Lego pieces with which they will be building
  • Recommended Prior Activity: Sturdy Structures: Introduction to Sturdy Shapes

Grades: K-3

Time: 1 hour

Concepts: sturdy structures, civil engineering, strong shapes, bracing, axle, bushing, pegs

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will be implement the engineering design process to build a sturdy tower


  • Lego Simple Machines kits or NXT kits
  • Extra motors and gears


  1. Review sturdy building principles, “Sturdy Structures: Introduction to Sturdy Shapes”.
    1. Talk about overlapping beam/bricks
    2. Talk about using pegs to connect pieces and how using two pegs to connect two beams means the beams won’t rotate.
    3. Talk about how you can use axles and bushings in a similar way that you can use pegs to attach beams.
  2. Introduce the challenge. Students must build a tower that is at least 4 inches tall can can support the weight of a book or stack of books.
  3. Students should used the Engineering Design Process to approach this challenge.
    1. Brainstorm: Have students think of ways to build sturdy structures and what a LEGO tower might look like.
    2. Choose and Plan: Have students draw out their plan and come to an agreement of what they will build with their partners.
    3. Create: Haves students build the towers. If students have trouble, encourage students to think about their sturdy building techniques.
    4. Test: Each tower must pass two tests.
      1. Height Test: The tower must be at least 4 inches tall (measure with a ruler).
      2. Weight Test: Each tower must hold the weight of a book or a stack of books.
    5. Redesign: Students must rebuild their designs after failed tests. Talk with students about what can be done differently to pass the test.
    6. Share:
      1. Come together as a class to discuss the activity. Let each pair share what they have created. Talk about problems groups had and how they fixed them.

Extensions and Modifications:

  • Have students build a tower that will support the weight of a student/STOMPer
  • Students must build a taller tower (minimum 6in, 12in, etc).
  • Using a base plate may be helpful for students.

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